Woodgate amenities block upgraded

Ashley Schipper

Refurbishment to an amenities block in Woodgate has just been completed with new toilets, showers and more added to the public facility.

The upgrade was identified through Bundaberg Regional Council’s Parks, Sport and Natural Areas Capital Works Program 2022 – 2023.

It was discovered that, due to the coastal environment, the toilets, fixtures and fittings had deteriorated and required replacing.

Work to refurbish the site began in July with the upgrade ensuring the amenities support the recreation needs of the surrounding community.

The project involved refurbishment to:

• Toilets, cubicles showers, taps and fixtures
• Roof, doors, ceiling and wall panels
• Electrical hardware and lights

You can read more about the Woodgate amenities block project here.

Community Christmas tree spreading joy

Georgia Neville

For more than a decade a tree on the side of the Isis Highway has been spreading Christmas joy to those driving by thanks to the efforts of a local family and firies.

Wrapped in tinsel, baubles and lights, decorating the tree has turned into a tradition that Roxanne Bennett and her family have been partaking in for many years.

“It all started about 12 years ago and my mum was the one behind the idea of it,” she said.

“She wanted to make special a non-descript tree in an unexpected spot.

“Now we have four generations go to the tree to decorate, including great gran who is 87 and watches from the car.

“It brings joy to our family, the fact we come together on the side of the road, armed with decorations, a ladder, cars with roof racks to stand on – we all get involved.

“The kids love when cars and trucks go past while we are decorating and honk their horns.”

Roxanne said the tree was decorated for one month in December with the aim of making people happy during the festive season.

“We decorate the tree as a token of goodwill and to let people know the world is not all bad,” she said.

“We hope that it spreads Christmas cheer and makes people smile.”

Firies do their part to save Christmas tree

Roxanne said the tree was also a symbol of hope and strength after having gone through some tough times.

She said when the area was impacted by bushfires in 2019 the community rallied to save the Christmas tree, including the Childers Rural Fire Brigade.

“When the bush fires went through all the surrounding area was burnt,” she said.

“The lights and decorations were all melted but the tree itself was still standing thanks to the amazing efforts of the fire fighters.”

Roxanne said there were many other factors that had impacted the Christmas decorations, but the generosity of the community had always ensured the tree remained standing.

“The tree has been through some rough times with stormy weather and we've often had to stop by the next day and check for damage and do running repairs,” she said.

“Lovely people have since restored our faith and have randomly left donated decorations at the site, including a star [which] has been placed on top of the tree every year since.”

The tree is located on the Isis Highway, about 15 minutes out of Bundaberg.

The family again visits the site after Christmas each year to return the tree back to its natural state.

$100,000 goal reached for Bundaberg Sleepbus

Ashley Schipper

A Sleepbus, which will provide a safe space for the region's homeless community at night, is one step closer to reality after a fundraising goal of $100,000 was recently reached.

Last week a movie fundraiser was held at the Moncrieff Entertainment Centre with more than $5700 raised to support the initiative.

The amount rounds off the total funds needed to ensure the Sleepbus will be built and arrive in the region just in time for next year's winter.

Sleepbus is an Australian-based innovation which provides immediate, temporary support for homelessness by creating a safe, comfortable place to sleep.

Each Sleepbus can provide up to 20 people a sleep “pod” with toilet, climate control, reading light, USB chargers and free-to-air digital television and support services channel.

Anyone seeking a safe bed for the night on Sleepbus doesn’t need a referral or to book ahead, they just turn up between 8. 30 pm and 10 pm.

Pets are also welcome in sleep pods with their owners.

A local fundraiser to bring a Sleepbus to the region was launched by the Bundaberg Housing and Homelessness Forum in July and quickly gained support from Bundaberg Regional Council and other local businesses.

Maria Ebert sits on the forum committee and said she was blown away with the generosity of the community.

“From our local business to the council and just some very generous residents, the support for this initiative has been astounding and I feel privileged to have been part of it all,” she said.

“This is such an important project right now.

“The housing crisis is climbing and climbing and it is really quite indiscriminatory-  how people find themselves in situations where they are homeless.

“Being part of something that can help people when they are down hit a spark in me.”

Mayor Jack Dempsey said the initiative was a perfect example of community coming together to provide support for those sleeping rough.

“The Sleepbus fundraiser is a whole-of-community effort, with locals and businesses alike joining forces to raise as much money as possible to ensure this initiative is a success,” he said.

“Thank you to the Bundaberg Housing and Homelessness Forum and everyone else who donated their time and money to this wonderful project.”

Sleepbus founder Simon Rowe said now that the fundraising target had been reached, plans would be put into motion to build the Bundaberg vehicle.

“We are currently looking for a suitable bus that will become the Sleepbus,” he said.

“It takes approximately 16 to 20 weeks to build and our goal at this time is to have the Sleepbus in Bundaberg for service for winter 2023.”

Simon said when the Bundaberg service launches, it will be the tenth Sleepbus available in Australia.

He said volunteers would be responsible for supporting the running of the service in Bundaberg while Sleepbus would be providing everything else involved, thanks to ongoing donations supporting the not-for-profit organisation.

“Sleepbus owns and operates the Sleepbus service and we seek sponsorship from local businesses to support the operating costs,” he said.

“We manage the service, volunteers, training, maintenance etc.”

Keep up to date with the Bundaberg Sleepbus project here.

Lighthouse Presents brings the entertainment

Ashley Schipper

Country musicians, rock stars and Aussie legends are making the Bundaberg Region a pitstop for performing thanks to the Lighthouse Presents team and their passion for premium entertainment.

Made up of founder Gavin Hales, Tania Deviney and Ainsley Gately, the organisation was established earlier this year and introduced the 2022 Lighthouse Rock festival under its banner.

The event was a huge success, with 5000 people converging to the grounds of Lighthouse Field where the likes of Jimmy Barnes, Jon Stevens, Choirboys and Ian Moss rocked the seaside suburb.

“It was fantastic, the buzz in the area and atmosphere was electric,” Gavin said.

“With this confidence of the community support and engagement we were very excited to launch Lighthouse Country straight away.”

In April 2023, Lighthouse Country will take over Burnett Heads across two days with musicians including Adam Brand, Lee Kernaghan, Casey Barnes and more set to perform.

“It will feature some of the best country music artists Australia has to offer,” Gavin said.

“There will also be the Lighthouse Rodeo featuring barrel racing and bull riding, The Crackup Sisters on stage and engaging with the audience, kids activities throughout the day, food vans and bars and more surprises still to come.”

Gavin said Lighthouse Presents supported tourism in Bundaberg and was wholly committed to impacting positive change.

He said the value of events like these was to not only create an evening of fantastic live music for locals, but to also encourage visitors to travel into the region, giving them an added reason to explore, stay and play.

“Destination events like this have the opportunity to generate economic, cultural and social value for the community while bringing people together for an unforgettable experience,” Gavin said.

“During the weeks surrounding Lighthouse Rock, we know that the region had a spike in visitation and Burnett Heads and surrounds welcomed an increase in intrastate visitors, travelling predominately from the Fraser Coast, Sunshine Coast and Gladstone regions over the 15 and 16 October.

“There was also visitors from interstate – we sold tickets in every state of the country.

“These visitors contributed to boosting our regional economy, as they spent money in local businesses, whilst experiencing the incredible offerings of our region.”

The organisation also supports local charities and initiatives, including the non-profit Great Barrier Reef Legacy which works to save the biodiversity of coral through the highly acclaimed Living Coral Biobank Project.

Gavin said during this year's Lighthouse Rock festival eventgoers had the option of donating from $1 to the legacy when purchasing each ticket.

“All money raised helps collect all 400 species of coral from the Great Barrier Reef and keep them alive in a land-based ‘coral ark’ type facility for their conservation, and to assist in reef research and restoration efforts,” he said.

“More than $1600 was raised this year as part of Lighthouse Rock.

With a goal of showcasing iconic events in the region, Gavin said Lighthouse Presents had big plans for the future but music lovers would need to “watch this space” to find out more.

Visit www.lighthousepresents.net.au to subscribe and stay updated or purchase your tickets today.

Leaps and bounds for View Club

Emma Turnbull

Within six short months of its inauguration Bundaberg View Club has come leaps and bounds, raising enough funds to support two Learning for Life students.

Bundaberg View Club president Coleen Neboraczek was overjoyed to share the news that Australia’s newest View Club was fortunate enough to be able to help two local students through their education next year.

“We have been extremely blessed this year,” Coleen said.

“Since our inauguration in June this year we now have 45 members, and we are about to sponsor two Learning for Life students.

“It’s not very often clubs get enough funds for one child, but we have raised enough for two children in our first year!

“These local children will have an opportunity to have their needs met for their education going forward.”

Coleen said the funds were raised with the help from local organisations Quota Club of Bundaberg and the Crossroads Biker Church.

“Bundaberg is a very caring community – I’ve been here only 12 months and I can see how people try to make life better for others.

“Whether it’s through the bikers’ club, Angels Community Group or Quota, there are so many caring groups willing to help.

“I’ve noticed in Bundaberg there’s a certain warmth.

“Things can be difficult but if you can go and help others, it makes a big difference.”

Coleen said View Club came under the umbrella of The Smith Family Charity, which was something very close to her heart.

“This year The Smith Family celebrated 100 years in Australia, and the View Club was established 62 years ago under it,” she said.

“The Smith Family is especially important to families at Christmas time.

“I was a Smith Family child growing up and having the support was definitely life changing.

“I’m very proud that I was looked after in my time of need. There’s a flow on effect to give back what I received.

“I’m 71 [years old] now and back then charity was a hand-out, but now charity is a hand-up!

“It is given with dignity, respect and so much care.

“It has been an eventful six months as Queensland’s newest View Club – we are the 40th View Club in Queensland and very proud of our progress.”

Bundaberg View Club meet once a month for a lunch with a purpose at The Young Australian Hotel, for more information contact Coleen on 0412 055 238.

Random acts of kindness bring joy for Christmas

Ashley Schipper

Christmas cheer is spreading throughout the region like wildfire as random acts of kindness are putting smiles on local faces.

Bundaberg woman Janice Clark is thanking Woolworths Bargara for making her day after she was gifted a box of fruit on a recent shopping trip.

Janice said she was doing her grocery shop on Tuesday afternoon with two grandchildren in tow when she received the large box from two staff members.

“I thought initially they wanted [to get] passed me as I had a trolley, a pram, babe in arms and a helpful eight-year-old,” she said.

“When they said the box was for me, I thought, but I didn’t order any fruit?

“I was totally blank and confused but then they explained and I just started to silently cry.”

Janice said the random act of kindness had made her day.

“It was such a beautiful thing to do,” she said.

“Christmas is a time of giving and it can also be a painful time for some who may be missing someone special or have no one at all.

“Random acts of kindness can boost a person for days.

“It lets them know someone has noticed them.

“Well done Bargara Woolworths for doing this, I’m sure you are going to make a few people feel special this Christmas.”

It's not the only kind gesture that's been happening in the Bundaberg Region this festive season.

Some unsuspecting residents have been lucky enough to wake up to a box of spiced ginger beer on their doorsteps thanks to the teams at Hitz FM and Bundaberg Brewed Drinks.

General Manager at Hitz 939 Corey Pitt said it was a pleasure to be involved.

“First designed in 2021, Bundaberg Brewed Drinks had the brainchild of this wonderful concept of giving back to the community with Cliffy Claus,” he said.

“Our local community registered on the promotional partner, Hitz939’s website, for their chance in receiving a free carton of Bundaberg Brewed Drinks Spiced Ginger Beer, and exclusive Cliffy Claus Christmas book.

“Over a full week from December 12 to December 16 the Hitz939 Cliffy Clause elves rose at the break of dawn to deliver 40 cartons a day – a total of 200 overall.

“This community promotion has been a wonderful collaboration between Bundaberg Brewed Drinks and Hitz939, who have worked so well together in delivering some much needed happiness to our community.”

Bundaberg Brewed Drinks' Tammie Hall said the promotion was a way of saying thanks to the region.

“The Bundaberg community have always supported our brand, so we wanted to find a way to show our appreciation to all,” she said.

“The Cliffy Claus promotion has been a great way to do just that, while also spreading some festive cheer during the Christmas season.”

What's on

Summer Tour warms Waterloo community


The clear summer twilight was the perfect setting to see over 150 people come together under the glow of stars and fairy lights at Waterloo for a Festival of Small Halls touring event.

The small community was celebrating an event that delivered on its promise to leave you feeling bigger on the inside.

Locals and visitors alike were treated to the delightfully distinctive sounds of musical group Inn Echo, solo artist Sam Buckingham and local musician Keely Ellen at the Festival of Small Halls event.

Presented by Woodfordia, the not-for-profit music tour highlights the importance of community connection, by celebrating the time-old tradition of gathering in a small hall to enjoy live music and storytelling.

The festival, now in its thirtieth year of touring, exhibits some of the best folk and contemporary acoustic artists and takes national and international musicians off the beaten track to perform in tiny town halls across the country.

Waterloo Hall was included as part of the Summer Tour of the travelling festival, identified through an expressions of interest process in partnership with Bundaberg Regional Council.

The Waterloo Hall Committee showcased the strength of the community coming together to breathe life and music into the 111-year-old hall.

Waterloo Hall Committee member Shirley Galea said the help of “many hands” had been instrumental in bringing the event to life.

“It certainly would not have been possible without the generosity of our committee and community, to bring this celebration to Waterloo,” Shirley said.

As guests assembled and the hall began to fill, local Gooreng Gooreng Elder Uncle Chris Thiesfield shared a heartfelt Welcome to Country which spoke about the historical tradition of meeting places and the importance of coming together and sharing stories.

The evening was woven together by affable local Ben Galea, the official emcee, with his evident affection for the hall and its people.

“The halls need life, and they need music, and they need community to be coming together and using them,” Ben said.

“Music is such a powerful medium, and when you're able to experience that in small halls with communities that know and love each other, it's a special experience.”

Yandaran Rural Fire Service and Country Women’s Association, fired up the barbecues and, with the steady and seamless precision that results from experience, offered generously overflowing hamburgers and a classic sausage sizzle to the grateful gathering.

Local emerging performer Keely Ellen said she felt honoured to be the supporting artist for the event alongside the calibre of the Small Halls musicians and was in awe of the quality of the music.

The supper interval afforded the opportunity to break for tea and coffee with a delicious variety of freshly baked homemade cakes, slices, and biscuits for sale.

Summer Tour brings people together in Waterloo

There was a distinct air of pride as conversations floated across the evening about the music, the hospitality, and naturally the hall.

Ellie-Lea Jansson, producer of the Festival of Small Halls, said joy was felt by everyone involved in the event, with artists experiencing a profound enrichment from the welcoming spirit of the hosts in each regional town.

“Those who share in this wonderous night of music and kinship all agree it is an experience that can’t be rivalled by large arena shows and is a triumph of the small but mighty hall,” Ms Jansson said.

Post-event, Shirley commented on how the event did good things for small communities.

“We live in an isolated area, almost like a micro-community and during difficult times the effects are felt by all,” she said.

“However, sitting and watching such a beautiful and moving performance, we were able to let ourselves pause for a while.

“It was an amazing night to see how community can come together to create something magical.

“There were so many moving parts in this project and through a lot of hard work, it all wonderfully fell into place.”

This event was supported by The Regional Arts Development Fund, a partnership between the Queensland Government and Bundaberg Regional Council to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland.

Got You Covered library column

In Our Recipe Book with Vikki Foster

Emma Turnbull

Seniors Month was recently celebrated with a Pen and Wash Workshop at the Bundaberg Art Society with the theme of cooking.

Vikki Foster took part in the event with her recipe of fried green tomatoes, which is now included in the Art of Good Food – A Recipe for Connection book.

Tell us what happened during the Pen and Wash Workshop?

We all bought in a recipe that we enjoy, and we are having a little demo on how to create this in pen and wash.

I bought in green tomatoes, and I created the recipe green fried tomatoes.

It is a southern USA recipe and it is delicious.

What made you decide on this recipe?

It’s jazzy, spicy, easy – easy as chips.

Great to share with friends, great to sit around and discuss a tragic day at art!

Why is it important to use local ingredients?

Tomatoes are an abundant crop.

It is wonderful to use them in the different maturity stages and a green tomato that often falls off the bush will just lay there.

So, if you can take it inside and slice it up, fry it up with some spices you are not wasting a valuable crop.

Are you passionate about the environment?

If it’s there you should be using it.

Whether you’re preserving, drying, or just creating a meal you can share with friends.

What’s the best way to use green fried tomatoes?

Green fried tomatoes can be a snack; it can be made into a light meal.

Generally, when you slice you dust with flour, and you have a form of bread crumb mixture and that can be made gluten free of course – you just adjust your recipe.

You crumb and then you pan fry. If you are cunning, you put some spices in the bread mix and it’s a jazzy little meal.

On the side you can have your dipping sauce which can be your own choice.

Did you learn new skills through the Pen and Wash workshop?

Yes, watercolour.

Watercolour is a new medium for myself, and it’s quite interesting to learn a new, challenging medium.

I usually work in pastel or graphite.

It’s fun rocking up and having a session with a variety of artists.

Some are just learners like myself in the watercolour field, and others are professionals and it’s great, you just help each other and have a laugh.

How do you feel about being involved in the recipe book?

To have a recipe book that creates everyone’s favourite recipes and to do a workshop, it is great!

It’s really good and then to share it, whether its online or through a hard copy.

It’s great to see the fruits of your labour.

Check out Vikki’s green fried tomatoes recipe, along with other local recipes, in the Art of Good Food – A Recipe for Connection, by clicking here.


Elizabeth gets gold in Namibia

Georgia Neville

Bundaberg sports star Elizabeth Newell has won gold at the recent Commonwealth Rowing Association Beach Sprint Championships in Walvis Bay, Namibia.

Competing at this level was an achievement in itself for Elizabeth, but winning gold was a very proud moment, especially considering she had only trained for the event in the ocean the weekend before leaving to Namibia.

“I was extremely proud to represent Australia and win gold competing against other commonwealth countries,” Elizabeth said.

“Most of my training has been still-water rowing as coastal rowing is a very new sport to Australia.

“As we do not have access to the specially designed coastal boats at my club in Brisbane, Coastal Rowing Noosa were kind enough to invite us to train in their coastal boats the weekend before we left.

“It was a very competitive event however it was a wonderful atmosphere and the comradery between athletes was great to be a part of.”

Elizabeth said the conditions in Namibia were varied from race to race, adding an extra challenge to competing.

“The conditions were different for every race which added extra challenges considering the different wind and currents which would affect the boat,” she said.

“The Namibian community hosted a wonderful event, and the venue was amazing with the desert meeting the ocean, very different from the Noosa event!

“Coastal rowing is a fantastic event as it can be held in locations across the world and allows many different countries to compete.”

Rowing Australia Chief Operating Officer Sarah Cook OLY said having athletes compete in coastal rowing and beach sprints was a great opportunity to continue to grow the sport.

“The results that our athletes achieved at the recent Commonwealth Rowing Association Beach Sprints Championships were amazing,” Sarah said.

“Coastal rowing and beach sprints are such an exciting emerging discipline of the sport.

“We look forward to its inclusion in the 2023 ANOC World Beach Games in Bali, the 2026 Youth Olympic Games in Dakar, and of the course the 2026 Commonwealth Games in Victoria.

“As momentum builds, we look forward to attracting more athletes from diverse backgrounds and pathways to the sport of Rowing.

“Coastal rowing and beach sprints have just caught its first big wave and we are only just getting started.”

Looking to the future, Elizabeth is excited to go back to flat-water rowing and working as an Occupational Therapist.

“I will be going back to flat-water rowing now aiming for the Queensland state championships in January and then the Australian Championships,” she said.

“I have also just graduated university and will be starting a new job as an occupational therapist and will be working my rowing around that.

“The Australian Coastal Rowing Championships will be held again next year which I hope to compete in again.

“I am very thankful for all the support I have had for me traveling to Namibia and competing in the Commonwealth championships.”

The Commonwealth Rowing Association was formed in 2018 to promote the sport of rowing within the Commonwealth community.

Find out more about the competition here.